GCSE Scandal

Exam boards changed grade boundaries between January and June so that about 10,000 students who would have got a C in January got a D in June. The exam boards gave no notice to schools or students of this change of policy. Many English teachers have contacted the NUT to complain about the effects on their students.

GCSE grading case at the High Court

On Tuesday 11 December the NUT joined head teachers, councils and members of the other leading teaching unions outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, for the start of the judicial review of the decisions of exam boards AQA and Edexcel and the exam regulator Ofqual. Their shift in the grade boundaries used for this summer¹s GCSE English exams meant that an estimated 10,000 students missed out on a C grade.

167 pupils, 150 schools and 42 councils from England, and six professional bodies are taking the action.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It is a great shame that we find ourselves in this position. The lead from the Welsh Government should have been followed and the re-grading of those pupils affected should have been ordered. Michael Gove missed the opportunity to correct this unfairness to students in England. I sincerely hope the High Court takes a different view and rectifies this injustice."

Clive Sheldon QC, presented our case with precision. He emphasized in his opening remarks that the case was being brought forward on behalf of thousands of students who had received unexpected and unpredicted grades.
They had received D grades and not C grades as a result of what he called, ‘illegitimate grade manipulation as a result of a statistical fix’.

Unfairness had taken place he said due to the way the June 2012 cohort had been marked down and due to the absence of adequate warning or failure to prepare schools, teachers and students of the magnitude of the changes made to grade boundaries. We hope to know soon if a judgment will be made before Christmas on the case.

Take action

If you or your colleagues have examples of the unfair treatment of pupils in your schools that would help to illustrate this unacceptable situation, please send them to the NUT at GCSE@nut.org.uk
We need your help. Please email your MP supporting the calls for re-grading this summer’s exams here and sign the e-petition calling for a full enquiry here.

Legal challenge over GCSE fiasco

An unprecedented alliance of schools, unions and professional bodies are mounting a legal challenge to Ofqual, Edexcel and AQA. Read the joint press release of 26 October here and NUT comment here.

A meeting took place with coalition partners on 10 October to take forward the legal challenge over the GCSE regrading scandal. Read the summary here.

Ofqual report on GCSE English

Ofqual published a full report on the GCSE English results scandal on 2 October 2012, shifting the blame whilst at the same time exposing the nonsense of floor targets, and refusing to acknowledge the mistakes they have clearly made. Read the full NUT comment on the report.

The NUT is continuing to call for a re-grading of this year’s GCSE English examinations in the light of evidence of attempts by Ofqual to force exam boards to ration qualifications based on students’ SAT results.

Re-grading confirmed for Welsh students

Calls for a re-grade and full enquiry into the GCSE results in England have been strengthened by news that the Welsh Government has asked the WJEC exam board to re-award GCSE English language grades for around 1,000 students. The NUT’s comment on the decision to re-grade GCSE English language examinations in Wales can be read here.

In spite of this Michael Gove has re-iterated his opposition to a re-grade for English students and was critical of the Welsh Government's decision when he appeared in front of the Education Select Committee on 12 September. The NUT's reaction to Michael Gove's comments can be read here.


  • The General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary met the Secretary of State, 19 Sept 2012. Read the report of the meeting here.
  • Letter (17 Sept 2012) signed by Christine Blower and other representatives from the education sector calls for a regrading of this year’s GCSE Examinations, and for an independent inquiry into whether the examination system has been manipulated by the government.
  • Letter (11 Sep 2012) to Michael Gove about the tension between the two contradictory positions of limiting grade inflation and the 40 per cent grade A*-C floor target.
  • TES report revealed correspondence in which Edexcel questioned the reliability of using key stage 2 results to determine the outcomes of a whole cohort of students five years later. The NUT responded to the revelations in the TES report in a press release which can be read here. Also available is a copy of the correspondence between Ofqual and Edexcel.
  • Letter (30 Aug 2012) to Michael Gove supporting demands for a re-grading (not a re-marking) of this summer’s English GCSE papers and for an independent inquiry into how this has come about.